NBA sneaker king P.J. Tucker has spent much of his offseason in New York, including sitting front row at several New York Fashion Week events and training with famed NBA skills coach Chris Brickley. Today, the baller was the focus of a panel at Advertising Week New York, an annual gathering of marketing and communications professionals.
Tucker fielded a variety of questions from GQ editor-in-chief Will Welch during a discussion on Big Business: The Role of Athletes in Culture. He got candid on subjects including his favorite brands today (Marni, Bode and Coach), the physical recovery routine that keeps him on the court (“I haven’t missed a game in like eight years. I’m on a streak. I’m Ironman.”) and his attention to style (“You know I don’t have a stylist.”).
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The most discussed topic, however, was social media and how athletes are the center of attention even when they’re off the court or field of play.
“It‘s unbelievable how much has changed. The entire dynamic. Over the years, everybody looked at athletes as just guys that played sports; you played sports and that’s kind of it. You don’t get to see their personalities. You don’t get to see their lives outside of the court. Now, with the way things are, your life is literally on a stage at all times,” the Houston Rockets player said during the talk with Welch.
And because they’re always in the spotlight, Tucker is mindful of how he presents himself at all times.
“Everybody gets to have direct access to you at all times, whether it’s you posting or your team is posting — my actual team posts more than any of us,” Tucker said. “They get us coming off the plane. They get us walking through the hotel. Everywhere you go, you’ve got to always be on your Ps and Qs.”
Aside from being conscious of social media’s impact, Tucker noted how it’s an asset to athletes today.
“Guys now are starting to take advantage of it because of the access and being able to show people your life, how you live,” Tucker said.
Social media, specifically Instagram, has been vital to Tucker becoming a fan favorite — especially among sneakerheads. Aside from the numerous headlines his kicks garner, the baller was named the NBA Player’s Association Sneaker Champ in 2018 and earned Bleacher Report Sneaker King honors this year.
But he is mindful of what, and how often, he posts on the platform.
“I have times where, like during Fashion Week or when I’m doing stuff, I’m posting a lot. I want people to see it, I want people to feel it like they’re right beside me. I think that’s really fun and people really get into that,” Tucker said. “A lot of time on game days, with my sneakers, I always do a lot of stuff with that. And sometimes with my family I’ll do a little bit.”
He continued, “Then there are times when I’m not posting at all. Playoffs, I don’t post at all. The worst is if you’re posting and you’re losing. The fans are like, ‘What are you doing? You’re not winning. He’s distracted.'”
Tucker also delved deep into basketball’s love of fashion, a subject near and dear to him. Early in his career, he said high-end fashion houses didn’t pay attention to athletes, mostly because they didn’t cater to men who are built larger than the everyday man. But that has changed drastically.
“I played in Europe for three and a half or four years, and that’s when I went to another level with [fashion]. Being there changed my vision and outlook on it,” Tucker said. “I just wanted to know so much and went into stores meeting people and literally having nothing I could wear. [But] over the years they’re opening their eyes and seeing athletes really just love fashion.”
Despite his love of fashion, the 13-year pro basketball veteran doesn’t know if he’d make that his second act when he’s done with the NBA.
“It’s something that I enjoy and I want to continue to enjoy it. I don’t want it to feel like a job. If it’s something I could do that doesn’t feel like a job that I totally enjoy — like basketball where I wholeheartedly want to do it every day whether I get paid or not — then yeah, I would [make fashion a career],” Tucker said.